Israelis Offer Haiti Functioning Hospital in Time of Crisis

Contributed PhotoAs Haiti’s humanitarian disaster pushed into its sixth day, Israelis rescued a 6-year-old girl from the rubble and Jewish groups continued their efforts to provide relief to the people of Haiti.

Medics from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Sunday (Jan. 27) delivered a Haitian boy, whom the mother named Israel, inside an Israeli field hospital. The same day, Israeli doctors delivered a premature girl at the same hospital after ABC News Senior Health and Medical Editor Dr. James Besser rushed the baby’s mother to the facility.The Israeli Consulate in New York assisted Besser in finding the hospital.

According to CNN, Israel’s field hospital is the only full-service medical facility on the island equipped to handle complex surgeries. Supplies for a U.S. field hospital are scheduled to arrive tonight (Jan. 18).

On Jan. 15 – two days after the massive earthquake rocket the island nation – the IDF’s emergency aid team arrived in Haiti, consisting of a medical mission and search-and-rescue crews. The medical team established the field hospital adjacent to Port-au-Prince’s soccer stadium, which can treat as many as 500 patients per day. The field hospital is equipped with:

Operating rooms
An intensive care ward
A maternity ward
A pediatrics ward
Incubator units
A pharmacy
X-ray equipment
10 tons of medical equipment
90 beds, 66 intensive care beds and two delivery beds
Approximately 250 personnel, including 40 doctors and specialists, 20 nurses and several paramedics.

The IDF search and rescue teams include about 30 operators and dozens of operations personnel comprising logistics, information technology, communications and canine units. Another IDF delegation is scheduled to depart for Haiti tonight (Jan. 18).

Also on Sunday, the IDF rescued a 52-year old man from under the ruins of a government office building after he communicated his location by text message. The Israeli team worked for six hours before finally freeing him.

Israeli emergency response service (ZAKA) volunteers on the ground in Haiti rescued eight students from the rubble of a flattened university building in Port au-Prince on Saturday. Deploying a six-man team, ZAKA worked for 38 hours with a Mexican military team to rescue the students.

The ZAKA team is composed of religiously observant Jews who continued their life-saving activities during the Jewish Sabbath because Jewish law instructs that Sabbath may be broken to save a life. “With all the hell going on outside, even when things get bad, Judaism says we must take a deep breath and go on to save more people,” said commander of the ZAKA mission to Haiti, Mati Goldstein, in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Ynet.

In addition to a 15-member civilian response team already in Haiti, the Israel Forum for International Aid (IsraAID), a coordinating body of Israeli and Jewish NGOs, plans to send a team of 12 medical and logistical staff this weekend.

The IsraAID team already on the ground includes doctors, nurses, paramedics and logisticians and has started work in Port-au-Prince providing emergency medical assistance and distributing humanitarian supplies. The medical team has set up operations in Port-au-Prince’s main hospital while the logistical personnel remain in the airport area to assist local NGO partners with logistical support for relief supplies that are continuing to arrive there.

Said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “Given Israel’s security needs, we have accumulated much search and rescue experience over the years. We have applied this experience previously in disaster scenes throughout the world – in Mexico, Argentina, Armenia, Kenya, Turkey and elsewhere. I hope and wish that the Israeli mission will succeed, this time as well, in saving as many lives – children, parents and families – in Haiti as possible.


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